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Showing posts from January, 2020

The road back from Gundagai

Woke up and it looked like we were in The Big Smoke already. Without much ado we simply repacd the car and drove off back along the Hume Highway to Sydney. Kita doesn't even really fight putting his harness on and is soon fast asleep. There is little to say about this all too familiar journey. We pass a burned out truck blocking half the road near Sutton Forest, whatever its load was included a lot of glass. The skies are grey and smoky, occasionally spitting rain. Here and there are signs and roads pointing off at towns and localities. I wonder what's down those roads, but now is not the time to traverse them. We are going home, to a place our dog knows. No stopping for food or local goods, not until we have left the motorway and reached Padstow, where we have lunch at a local fave. Then home, as we have left it bar the spiderweb that entangles itself in my hair near the entrance. Tonight a storm, something of a relief from the humid smoky air. Already I miss the re

Peaches and apricots

It's time to head home. Pack, clean and fight with Kita to get the harness fitted. I drive the motorways through Geelong and around Melbourne until we are finally on the Hume. But it is not enough just to reverse our journey. Instead we take a detour towards Shepparton. By the time we reach the rural city we are hungry and need to use the facilities. Limited by the dog we pull over at Victoria Park and, while I walk Kita, the other two fetch a takeaway lunch from the KFC opposite. However, the real reason to stop at Shepparton is not food from a multinational restaurant chain. Shepparton is the fruit capital of Australia, home of SPC. We stop at a farm outlet and buy a box of white peaches and a bag of apricots. Apricots! You can't get decent apricots in Sydney and I love apricots. I love these apricots. There was another place, further along, where we once bought the most delicious pears. But they don't seem to be open any more. The route eventually me

Bikes and lighthouses

Back to Queenscliff today and straight to the Big4 Beacon Resort to collect our hire bikes. Three mountain bikes. Across the road to the beach, where we ride the path along the esplanade, sea to our left, sandhills to our right. The air is hazy with smoke and smells like a blend of smoke and the scent of seaweed that I always associate with this region. It is a flat path, easy to cycle past joggers, families and pedestrians walking their dogs. The path goes all the way to Point Lonsdale, that village at the head of Port Phillip Bay. Kids and adults sunbaking or splashing in the waves. We turn back and return the way we came. At our starting point we cross the road and cycle in the opposite direction, parallel with the heritage railway track, the same way we went on our first ride here back in 2016. I just glimpse a diesel hauled passenger train heading out to Drysdale, which is a pity because it would have been so nice to see it pass up close a bit further on against

Mussel bound

It's nice to sit on a couch a read a book in the morning. After a breakfast of bacon and eggs we drove down towards Queenscliff in the hope of finding a suitable bicycle hire place. The e-bike hire service was unavailable due to Alex's age, so he was disappointed. He consoled himself that it was hot and smoky, so not the best for riding in. We stopped at Bellarine Adventure Golf for a challenging game of mini-golf. At Queenscliff we ate pies at the Rolling Pins bakery and ice cream at the Scandinavian Ice Cream shop. An antique shop brought back memories with old trains, video games and cassettes. The helpful tourist office contacted the same Big4 caravan park we stayed at last visit to organise bike hire. Both Alex and B slept as I drove around the peninsula to Portarlington, where the beach front was crowded with families swimming, sunbaking and playing water sports. They woke and we walked the pier, then went hunting for mussels, eventually finding th

The Balance of the Force

"Anger, fear, aggression; the Dark Side of the Force are they. " - Yoda Last night I just wanted a holiday from the holiday. Exhausted by the tension of the fires and the trips out into the dark dusty air to allow Kita to excuse himself, last night I needed sleep. I put Kita in the laundry, which unfortunately includes access to the toilet and asked Alex not to disturb him in the night. Unable to go to the toilet, shortly afterwards Alex comes out and floods the bathroom sink with brown spaghetti and chocolate pudding vomit. It blocks the sink, it spills over everything. He is so apologetic and does his best to clean it up, but it is the last thing I need and B cannot help without adding to the mess, such is her reaction to sick. Eventually it is all cleaned up and Alex returns to bed. I turn out the lights and hope to sleep myself. Then Kita starts crying. I tell him to be quiet. He is quiet for a short time, then the yaps start again. I'm losing my temper. I

Beyond to Belmont

As we were going to bed last night we received notification that the Hume Highway was closed between Coolac and Tumbarumba. We were cut off. The only traffic were fire engines and police, red and white lights flashing through the clouds of dust and smoke swept up by the gusty winds. Needless to say, it was difficult to sleep. Our bags were packed in the car should we need to evacuate, but how would we know? I check the emergency app. A couple of hours later the highway is open again and the fire warning reduced. I begin drifting off to sleep. But Kita stirs and decides he is thirsty. Click, click, click as he licks at his bowl. Then back around the room. Then click, click, click again. Does he want to go out to do a pee now? I attach his leash and walk him out into the dark night air. It smells of rain. Kita sniffs and sniffs, but it is a long while before he releases. I drag him back. Some sleep again. I'm dreaming, when Alex awakes for his trip to the bathroom. Now Ki

On the road to Gundagai

"There's a track winding back to an o-old fashioned shack, along the road to Gundagai" - Slim Dusty Look, I'm no fan of Slim Dusty, but it certainly is dusty in Gundagai, the town more famous for the Dog on the Tuckerbox. There was a dog beside the bag of tucker at the Hungry Jack's this evening. It's was over forty degrees celcius when we arrived at six-thirty PM, according to the car's thermometer. There were reminders of the fires as we drove through the Southern Highlands and then in Gundagai itself. As I walked Kita around the motel yard I watched a convoy of rural fire brigade trucks, red and blue lights flashing, heading up towards the fires around Batlow and the Snowys. The Fires Near Me app's icon has changed to the red of an Emergency Warning for the fire, the closest to our current location. The air here is smoky and very dusty. I have to wear my sunglasses in the dimmed evening light as the wind whipped whipped up the dry s